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The global agri-food system continues to face considerable challenges in being able to sustainably provide enough food of adequate quality to feed an ever-growing and aging population. In the Caribbean, this is further compounded by the impacts of climate change that are causing changes in rainfall and temperature patterns and are increasing the frequency and strength of extreme events. The region remains particularly vulnerable to these risks which threaten the development of crops, agricultural systems and food and nutrition security.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) digital agriculture, including the use of innovative technologies and tools, can provide innovative solutions to these challenges by enhancing the connectivity of all the actors in the agri-food system, reducing inefficiencies and barriers, and helping to better understand and address systemic multi-hazard risks.
The Government of Canada, CARICOM and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through its “Cooperation for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience in the Caribbean” Initiative hosted the first in a series of two-day trainings on Climate-Smart Agriculture Digital Technologies from 9-10 March 2021 to introduce the region to the various technologies and tools available.
Close to 90 participants attended the first series of trainings to learn about these technologies and tools, their applicability in country and how gender dimensions can be integrated in their adoption and use at the country and institutional levels.
FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator Dr. Renata Clarke in her opening remarks at the training shared that:
“We need innovative technologies and tools that will help us better understand the increasingly complex agri-food systems risks and challenges and develop cost effective, efficient and scalable solutions that will increase their resilience. Gender sensitive digital agriculture is one of the key enablers towards increasing resilience of our agri-food systems.”
The trainings provide an opportunity for the region to gain a basic understanding of these tools and technologies and how these can promote climate change adaptation in agri-food systems (crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture) and build the resilience of the rural population’s livelihoods in the sub-region.
Shaun Baugh, Agricultural and Agro-Industrial Development Programme Manager at the CARICOM Secretariat, further stated that:
“For us in the Caribbean, technology and digitization is important and the only way for our regional agricultural food systems to survive and support our people in the Caribbean and ensure food security. This training allows us to move into this digital revolution.”
The initiative further supports CARICOM member countries via a pre-investment fund, technical assistance, and capacity building on gender-sensitive climate change adaptation, including through digital technologies.
Kalima Ali Jagnarine, Senior Development Officer on Global Affairs of the Canadian High Commission who offered the closing remarks on behalf of Acting Senior Director for Global Affairs Canada, Jennifer Hayes emphasized that:
“Caribbean countries have been at the forefront of initiatives drawing attention to the emerging threats on small vulnerable countries whose economies, infrastructures, cities and productive capacities are at the mercies of hurricanes, storms, floods and variable weather patterns. The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought new challenges as it relates to food security and agriculture. Agriculture plays an important role in the development of regional economies. The Introduction to Climate-Smart Agriculture Digital Technologies Training is very timely, as countries are not only grappling with the effects of climate change but also the impacts of the global pandemic and the need to ensure food security.” The second series of two-day virtual trainings will take place from 16-17 March 2021.